Blue Blood: A constructive loss last week for Cougars

COMMENTARY — So, lets go over the Good, the Bad and some Ugly off the Wisconsin game from last Saturday.

To be completely straight forward here, the game went about how I thought it would go with how powerful the Badgers are at home. I believe in college football these days, any team can beat any other team on any given day, but then you have to be realistic when looking at match-ups. I thought there was always a chance to go in to Wisconsin and escape Camp Randall with a win, but it was not really likely. No matter what team tries to do it, beating the Badgers in Wisconsin is very tough.

With BYU’s slow start, the Cougars just could not ever climb out of the 14-point deficit they went into half time with. With Wisconsin’s win over BYU, the Badgers moved up to No. 17 in the BCS Stabdings. I think this year’s Badgers team will continue climbing in the polls.

byustggnewsIn sports, sometimes there really is such a thing as a good, competitive loss for a program. I say this with some constructive criticism and my personal understanding with all my years of college and NFL experience. Yes, the purpose of playing against great teams is to try and win. Yes, a win vs. Wisconsin would have been huge. Yes, a team always wants to be on the winning end of competition. Yes, making losing common is a bad thing.

But someone has to lose and sometimes a team has to be content with just giving it their all. I look at BYU as a program that is trying to build something greater than the next week’s potential win, or even the 2013 win totals. I look at BYU football as a program that is rebuilding what it once was nationally during much of the 1970s, 80s and 90s (the LaVell Edwards era).

The Cougars are growing an identity and working out the inconsistencies of their program in a very competitive level of sporting. Achieving the best possible results every season and gaining more national recognition each year is a long-term goal and there will be good losses along the way. This continued success will also help the Cougars keep a full schedule with great programs willing to step up to face BYU in non-conference play. There is a way for BYU to take a loss as a winner and continue making strides to compete and be the best it can annually. BYU gave it their best and for that, they made me proud.

Both teams were very evenly matched for the most part all the way across the board. To be plain and simple, the two main reasons for BYU’s loss is Wisconsin’s great defense and the Badgers great running attack. BYU has a great defense and still held this powerful Wisconsin offense to 27 points. I would venture to say that there is not a program in NCAA football that can stop the Badgers’ very ugly two-headed monster they have at running back. Both of the Badgers running backs will be next level NFL types. Other teams might possibly slow them down like BYU did, but they are too big and talented to be shut down behind those huge offensive linemen. In fact, No. 3-ranked Ohio State was the only team Wisconsin has played that kept them to fewer points than BYU did Saturday and that was still at 24 points.

The only weakness I saw in BYU’s performance last Saturday defensively was the lack of pressure on Wisconsin’s QB, Joe Stave. With BYU’s very solid defense, it might bring up  the question of why? The answer again points straight at the UW rushing game. Trying to stop the running attack made the defense vulnerable to the pass. This really put the front seven of the defense on its heels and kept them from teeing off with the pass rush. It virtually eliminates great pass rushers like Van Noy from the game. They also own the time of possession and keep the other team’s offense on the sideline. I love to watch a really good ground attack, even if it is against BYU.

BYU’s offense did show some good things while scoring 17 points, but it also showed that the O has a ways to go before it is at the level of being a national contender. This sixth-ranked Badger defense has several shutouts and has kept most teams to 10 or fewer points this season — and we are talking about Big Ten Conference football now.

Taysom Hill was solid in passing 19 for 41 with one interception off of pressure. Hill was sacked four times and pressured too frequently. He had two TD passes to Cody Hoffman. Hoffman did break and set a new BYU receiving record and hauled in the two touchdowns off 113 receiving yards. We can officially say we are watching Hoffman setting new receiving milestones for future BYU receivers every time he takes the field.

Jamaal Williams did show he has potential to be one of the best running backs around. He competed very well with Wisconsin RBs James White, and M. Gordon, who are known to be the best in the country. Williams averaged 5.4 yards per carry while Gordon was at 4.5 and White hit 6.4 yards per carry.

Up next for the Cougars is a home game against Idaho State, which is on a four-game losing streak. The Bengals are 3-7 over all this season and 1-6 in conference. Idaho State has not won a road game this season and will have really no chance this Saturday in Provo. The Bengals did just come off a close loss to Portland State.

BYU, with its loss to Wisconsin, will be looking for a little redemption Saturday and it does not look good for ISU. I look at this as a game for BYU where they can probably play their starters for the first half and then get most of their second and third stringers some really good reps. It will also be a game where they can get some players healthy and prepare the team for Notre Dame the following week.

An interesting fact for us southern Utahns, or for those who don’t know: ISU did beat Dixie State University for the season-opener 40-14. When they met up with Southern Utah a couple of weeks ago in Cedar City, the Bengals lost 19-9.

On offense, ISU has a couple of core standouts. At QB, the Bengals have Justin Arias, who has 19 passing touchdowns and averages 337.7 yards a game in passing. Xavier Finnely is the top ISU running back. He hasfour4 TDs on the season and averages 73.8 yards per game. The Bengals’ best receiver is Luke Austin, who has seven TDs and averages 120.6 yards per game in receiving.

I do not look past teams, but let’s be real —  Idaho State should be a walk in the park for this seasoned team from Provo. BYU will be heading to Notre Dame for a match-up on Nov. 23. After last year’s loss to Notre Dame, this game would be another huge milestone if the Cougars can walk away with a victory. Notre Dame is very beatable this year and has three losses so far in 2013.

The Fighting Irish have a bye this week, so they are already preparing and resting up for the Cougars to come to town. With the last game of the regular season being played on the road against the Nevada Wolf Pack, BYU has a good shot at winning the last three games before their bowl game.

~

Scott Young is a sports columnist. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.

Email: sports@stgnews.com

Twitter: @oldschoolag

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2013, all rights reserved.

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